Your Wild Atlantic Way road trip highlights tour kick starts in Ireland’s capital city: Dublin, always lively, full of culture, history and great traditional pubs.
2 Dublin to Cork - 282km
Today you will drive from Dublin city to Cork city in the South of Ireland. Along the way, we recommend you stop to visit:
The iconic Rock of Cashel, also known as Cashel of the Kings, which was the seat of the High Kings of Munster. Most of the buildings date from the 12th century.
Blarney Castle was built nearly 600 years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy. Visitors come to see the Stone of Eloquence, found at the top, of the main tower. Legend has it if you kiss the Blarney Stone you’ll never again be lost for words again.
Once in Cork city, you should explore this historic and even-changing city, by the River Lee. The English Market is a must-visit. It is a roofed food market that has been trading since 1788, therefore the oldest municipal market of its kind in the world. There you will find all the best food from the region.
3 Cork to Killarney - 302km
Only 30 minutes from Cork, you will reach the pretty coastal town of Kinsale. It is here where you will be joining the Wild Atlantic Way route:
Kinsale: this beautiful seaside village is regarded as the gourmet capital of Ireland, there is no shortage of restaurants, cafés and pubs to suit every taste and budget.
Following the Wild Atlantic Way heading West along the coast you will enjoy magnificent views and pass lovely towns and villages, including Baltimore. Originally settled by a colony of Normans around 1169, the village still maintains remnants of this past including Dun Na Sead Castle.
Mizen Head is Ireland’s most Southerly point. Here you will have the chance to learn about its history at the visitor centre, signal station, Fastnet Hall and arched bridge.
On your way to Killarney you will reach the charming town of Kenmare, famous for its gourmet foods and friendly atmosphere. Your stop for tonight is Killarney, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland. It is jam packed with restaurants and pubs, with something for everybody’s taste. The town itself lies on the edge of Killarney National Park, a must-see. The mountains, lakes and parkland create awesome vistas.
4 Killarney to Killarney - 298km
Today, you have a superb day ahead. The Wild Atlantic Way road trip highlights takes you from Killarney around the Ring of Kerry and The Dingle Peninsula, where you will be amazed by the stunning scenery and picturesque villages.
National Geographic once referred to The Dingle Peninsula as “the most beautiful place on earth” and its easy to see why: breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches that go on for miles, plenty of history and culture, great food … it is the West of Ireland at its purest.
The road around Slea Head follows an impressive cliff-top route, where you will enjoy a dramatic seascape of crashing waves, rocks and sea birds.
After Inch Beach, you will reach Annascaul and ‘The South Pole Inn’ owned by legendary polar explorer Tom Crean when he retired from the navy, there is a museum on site, full of equipment and artefacts from his expeditions.
Returning to Killarney for tonight’s accommodation you will follow the Ring of Kerry, this 200 km looped driving route takes in some of the finest and most iconic coastal views in Ireland, including: Molls Gap, perfect for viewing the famous Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and surrounding lakes; and Torc Waterfall, one of the iconic landmarks on the Ring of Kerry. Back in Killarney, visit the Muckross House 19th century Victorian mansion set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park.
5 Killarney to Galway - 294km
Today, the Wild Atlantic Way road trip highlights tour takes you from Killarney across North Kerry and across the Shannon Estuary into County Clare, home to Ireland’s most iconic cliffs: the Cliffs of Moher. Your stop for the night is Galway City, a lively University town.
The Shannon Estuary is a recognised breeding ground for bottle nose dolphins and you may be lucky enough to catch sight of one during your crossing on the Tarbert Ferry this morning.
Loop Head epitomises what the Wild Atlantic Way is about: panoramic cliff views, abundant local seafood and plenty of quiet beauty spots.
The impressive Cliffs of Moher stretch along the coast for over 8km and tower 214m above the Atlantic Ocean. In the impressive visitor centre you will get information about the area, cafes and bathrooms.
The Burren is referred to as “fertile rock” for its home to a unique mixture of herb and floral species. It is also home to impressive archaeology and you should definitely visit the famous Poulnabrone Dolmen portal tomb dating back to the Neolithic period; as well as the Ailwee Caves.
Rounding Black Head you will find a small lighthouse perched on the cliff top and from this vantage point you will have spectacular views of Galway Bay.
6 Galway to Westport - 195km
The Wild Atlantic Way road trip highlights tour takes you today across one of the most fascinating regions of Ireland: Connemara.
Travelling through the Connemara countryside you will pass the locations of ‘The Quiet Man’ and ‘The Field’. Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands.
Driving through Roundstone you will have an opportunity to explore the workshop of Malachy Kearns, (better known as Malachy Bodhrán among folk musicians) at his craft of making Ireland’s oldest product the Bodhrán (Bow-Rawn).
From Clifden take the ‘Sky Road’, one of the most breathtaking in the country.
In 1920 a community of nuns purchased Kylemore Castle, after their abbey in Ypres Belgium was destroyed during WWI. The nuns transformed the castle into Kylemore Abbey, the abbey and walled gardens are open to the public.
Killary fjord is located in the heart of Connemara and is one of three glacial fjords that exist in Ireland. Here you will be leaving Galway and entering County Mayo.
Just before Westport, you will be passing by Croagh Patrick: Ireland’s ‘holy mountin’. Legend has it that Croagh Patrick is the site from which Saint Patrick banished snakes from Ireland. An annual pilgrimage in July sees thousands of devotees from all around the world travel to Croagh Patric, for a day of worship in honour of Ireland’s patron saint.
The word’s picturesque and Westport go hand in hand. This busy little town has a lot to offer whether you are looking historic tours, scenic walks, gastronomy or bars with entertainment that will take you into the small hours of the morning.
7 Westport to Dublin - 263km
From Westport you will leave the Wild Atlantic Way route behind and make your way back to Dublin. We have a number of suggestions for today where you can stop for a visit:
Just outside Castlebar at Turlough village you can visit the National Museum of Country Life. The Museum sits in serene parkland and introduces visitors to rural life in Ireland between 1850 and 1950.
At Strokestown House you will find the National Famine Museum. The museum offers a great insight into the causes and effects of the Great Famine of the mid-1800’s. Its location is also quite apt as many families in this area where evicted during the famine by the former owners of the house.
You will cross the mighty River Shannon which at 360 kilometres is the longest river in Ireland. From its source in County Cavan the river meanders south through lakes and bog land to enter the Atlantic Ocean at Limerick.
Trim Castle is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and is one of the most impressive castles of any kind in the country. Its earliest form dates from the 12th century and was once the administration centre for Norman rule in the area. The castle sat on the boundary of what was once ‘The Pale’. If you went past this point you were literally ‘beyond the Pale’. The castle was also a filming location for the movie ‘Braveheart’.
Today is the last day of your Wild Atlantic Way road trip highlights with IrelandWays.com. Back in Dublin city, take some time to explore this exciting, history packed city. Ask the IrelandWays.com travel consultants for extra nights if you wish to spend some time in the city.
Not to be missed during your stay in Dublin:
The Phoenix Park: at 707 hectares is the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city.
Guinness Store House: is fast becoming Ireland’s number one visitor attraction, providing an unforgettable welcome and a magical journey deep into the heart and heritage of this world famous beverage.
Located in the heart of Dublin City, the Old Library in Trinity College houses the Book of Kells, a 9th-century gospel manuscript, written in Latin on vellum and famous throughout the world for its lavish decoration.
Kilmainham Gaol: is one of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe, covering some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation from 1780s to the 1920s.
Glasnevin Cemetery: contains historically notable monuments and the graves of many of Ireland’s most prominent national figures.